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Public Health

Guide to library research for evidence-informed public health practice.

Evidence-Informed Decision Making

The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) describes evidence-informed decision making as "the process of distilling and disseminating the best available evidence from research, context and experience, and using that evidence to inform and improve public health practice and policy. Put simply, it means finding, using and sharing what works in public health." 

NCCMT is hosted by McMaster University and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Visit the NCCMT Learning Centre for Modules by Steps.

Define: Clearly define the question or problem

Search: Efficiently search for research evidence

Appraise: Critically and efficiently appraise the research sources

Synthesize: Interpret/form recommendations for practice based on the literature found

Adapt: Adapt the information to a local context

Implement: Decide whether (and plan how) to implement the adapted evidence into practice or policy

Evaluate: Evaluate the effectiveness of implementation efforts

A model for evidence-informed decision making in public health:

Topic Overview/Background Reading

Background reading can help you get a sense of the literature surrounding a particular topic. This can start with preliminary searches using the library discovery tool Omni, Google Scholar, Google, or relevant library databases, to identify book content or articles (review articles can be particularly useful).

Tip for searching the library discovery tool Omni and Google Scholar: only scan through the top results since they are sorted and displayed by relevance. If you are not retrieving relevant results, try using different search terms (e.g. other synonyms/related terms). Utilize the limits available to narrow your search results.